If you’re quite simply not coping with the demands of your life, you may need to re-tune your body clock.
Stress is an emotional response to a trigger. There are many kinds of stress, some even essential to life and the workings of our bodies and minds. When stress accumulates and compounds into a negative cycle of anxiety, tension, insomnia and inability to tackle what life throws at you, that’s when it’s the bad kind. Stressors of the bad kind often have to do with a woman’s finances or personal situation. Ultimately, no matter the cause of stress, it is likely to affect a woman’s job or career too.
Woman at work
Juggling roles as so many women do may put you at risk of burnout, which is a state of extreme stress. It may affect you in two main ways:
Physically – you can develop high blood pressure and depression, and become anxious and irritable
Emotionally – you may feel worthless, struggle to think, and feel like you just can’t cope
Burnout affects your performance at work; you often struggle to organise schedules, you become cynical and negative, and you basically stop enjoying your job – all of which creates more job stress! Avoiding burnout means managing your stress.
If you have a stressful working environment, here are some things you can do to improve things:
- Identify your stress triggers and devise realistic solutions
- Take regular breaks to re-energise
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle – that’s good food and exercise!
- Focus on positive thoughts
- Keep your sense of humour
In addition, you can sleep it off! Sleep is an effective, natural way to manage stress and avoid burnout. Mood and sleep are closely connected. Insufficient sleep makes you more vulnerable to stress and can create more stress because it impairs concentration and affects job performance. Plus, if you’re irritable and grumpy, nobody is going to want to be around you! Getting enough sleep – the average is seven to eight hours per night – means you will have more energy and feel better able to cope.
Tune your body clock!
Sleeping and eating patterns as well as behaviour, and physical and mental functions, are all controlled by circadian cycles. These are daily cycles, roughly 24 hours long, which are controlled by our internal body clocks. All living things have circadian cycles – plants, animals and even fungi!
Circadian cycles trigger hormone release, body temperature and – you guessed it – the body’s sleep cycle. Although our body clocks are genetic, environmental factors, such as changing time zones, can influence our circadian rhythms.
Light is an important influence. When there is low light, the body produces melatonin, which makes you sleepy. When there is a large amount of light, the body produces cortisol, which wakes you up. You can use these same principles to aid sleep.
If you are suffering from stress and insomnia, here are five things you can do to help:
- Exercise during the day, preferably in the afternoon, to help burn off some of that energy.
- Follow a ‘slowing down’ routine before you go to bed – if you rush around all day and then rush into bed, your mind will likely keep ‘rushing’ and it’ll take longer to sleep.
- Use low lighting before you go to bed, like reading in bed with just a reading lamp on, to trigger melatonin.
- Avoid using cell phones, tablets, computers or even the TV right before you go to bed, as the bright light from the screen is telling your body that it’s time to wake up!
- Don’t snack late at night as digestion requires energy and keeps you awake.